According to the latest reports of US media such as CNN and the New York Times, the chemical explosion in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was related to a freighter chartered by a Russian businessman to transport ammonium nitrate, a chemical fertilizer raw material.
among them, CNN of the United States specially highlighted “Russia” in its title. “New York Times” is more restrained, did not point out Russia in the title.
according to reports from CNN and the New York Times, many official records from Lebanon as well as the files of cargo ship crew show that the explosion was indeed related to a cargo ship chartered by a Russian businessman in Cyprus in 2013.
these data show that in 2013, a Russian cargo ship “MV rhosus” carrying about 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a raw material for chemical fertilizer, left Batumi, a seaport city in Georgia, an Eastern European country.
However, due to the financial difficulties encountered by the Russian businessmen renting the freighter, the Russian captain of the freighter was asked to find a way to complete the rest of the voyage. Therefore, the cargo ship flying the flag of Moldova, a small European country, stopped at the port of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, under the arrangement of the captain, hoping to take on some extra work there.
However, according to the report in the New York Times, the captain’s plan failed because the 30-40-year-old freighter was too old to take over the local work of transporting heavy machinery. At the same time, the Lebanon authorities found that the cargo ship had a lot of irregularities, not suitable for navigation, and did not pay the port usage fee. At that time, the Russian and Ukrainian crew on board also had a conflict over the issue of funds, and complained to each other locally, which led to the arrest of the cargo ship by the Lebanon authorities. During this period, six crew members abandoned the ship and returned home. But the captain and three Ukrainian crew members were detained and asked to pay off their debts to the port.
CNN and the New York Times reported here that the captain of the ship had asked the Russian authorities and the Russian Embassy in Lebanon for help. But according to the captain’s recollection, the Russian Embassy in Lebanon did not help and was not friendly.
at the same time, the merchant who originally hired the freighter could not be contacted. It seems that he gave up the freighter completely, and the supplier of goods for the freighter could not contact him. As a result, the captain had to find his own way to raise funds by selling the remaining fuel on board, and hired a lawyer, hoping to get rid of it as soon as possible.
in August 2014, a court in Lebanon, out of sympathy for the crew’s suffering, ruled that they could be released back home. At this time, the merchant who originally hired the freighter also appeared and paid them the cost of returning home, but did not pay the wages owed to them. CNN reported that the email between the captain and the lawyer also showed that ammonium nitrate on the freighter had been unloaded from the ship by the Lebanon authorities in 2014 and stored in the warehouse at the port.
and what happened after 2014, neither CNN nor the New York Times reported Russia. According to the report of the New York Times, the reason is also obvious, because in the next six years, how to dispose of the freighter and the 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate are the responsibility of the government of Lebanon. This is probably the reason why the US media did not deliberately highlight the word “Russia” in its title, as CNN did.
a large number of official records from the Lebanon side show that in the past six years, the person in charge of Beirut port in Lebanon, as well as senior officials of the Lebanon customs, have repeatedly warned and called on the government to remove as soon as possible the 2700 tons of extremely dangerous ammonium nitrate stored in the cargo ship and the port. Among them, during 2014-2017, only customs officials made six applications to the Lebanon court , asking what to do with it.
the New York Times also mentioned that a person in charge of Beirut port said in an interview with local media that he had heard that the ammonium nitrate was going to be auctioned off, and that some people had suggested that 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate, which can also be used as explosives, be donated to the Lebanon army, but in the end nothing happened.
the captain who has given up the freighter also said that the main responsibility for the 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate explosion in Lebanon now lies in Lebanon, followed by the merchant who caused the 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate to appear in Lebanon.
according to the New York Times, in an interview with a media, the captain said, “they could have had a good crop, not a big explosion.”.
the captain also said that he had heard friends from Beirut say that their freighter had sunk in 2015 or 2016 because of flooding on board.